The door slammed shut. I saw my best friend as she walked quickly towards her boyfriend. He was waiting for her leaning against his car, door open, so I caught a glimpse of the two neatly wrapped gifts on the seat. As she reached him his smile widened and he immediately took her in his arms for a quick hug. Anybody could tell they loved each other, the kinds you read in books. As I drove away I felt happy, the kind you feel while watching a romantic movie.
I had seen my friend from the very beginning of her relationship. She’d share all that he said to her and I saw her falling in love, the way he cared for her, the way she felt when he was around, the way she cried when he wasn’t, the way he looked when she was unwell and the way they never let go of each other at parties. All my friends were committed and the couples and I usually hung out together. Just not some obvious days.
My favourite song played from the car speakers and I was humming it instinctively. Eventually I started hearing the words carefully and heaviness started percolating my happy feeling. Involuntarily I started thinking about the guy I used to like and the time we had gone out to eat alone and the way I felt. I stopped at the red light and looked around.
Everybody seemed to be going in pairs today. To my left a girl was snuggling up to her man on a bike. An elderly couple were sitting calmly in the car in front. I looked across the road and a man was going person to person carrying a bunch of red heart shaped balloons. Atleast somebody is making something of this day alone I thought to myself.
I reached home and turned on the T.V. I was tired and needed to sleep but my mind would never let me in this state. I would end up in bed thinking my way into sadness. I needed to distract myself. this day of the year was the worst. I flicked channels but it was all I could do to resist watching all he mushy stuff that was on and that I liked. I finally gave up and settled for watching the love story.
The lady on the screen was looking at a man who was clearly torn. A tear trickled down his cheek and suddenly he fell on his knees and hugged her waist. ”don’t leave me “, he said and started sobbing against his stomach. The girl reached down to him and gave him a watery smile and leaned in closer. She held his face in both her hands and I realised I had tears in my eyes already. The heaviness was upto the brim now. I looked to my side for the box of tissues angry at myself that’s when I saw him.
Leaning over the window of the opposite building, one hand on the pink curtains, he still seemed 6 feet tall. Wheatish complexion and eyes staring right back into mine. I became immediately self-conscious and looked to the side at my curtains. As I tried to think of how to inconspicuously draw them I started thinking others things too. The first thing I saw on his face was the scar under his left eye so strikingly similar to the scar my crush had. But mostly I was thinking about the look on his face.
I was confident a guy wouldn’t like me , I wasn’t that special looking and in my class I was one of the guys ,yet those eyes had a flash of something I didn’t believe but wanted to so badly. I got up slowly much more aware of him looking from the other side of the small lane and as I was about to close the curtains avoiding eye contact I heard him call “hi” .my heart leapt up before I could raise my eyes. Considering for some time to avoid losing the moment I said “hello” and I could hear the nervousness in my own voice.
He smiled a little and looked a little taken aback to see me. I realised then I had been crying and he probably saw traces of that. But before I could wipe them off he said “I can make anybody laugh you know. Can I come over?” It was my turn to be taken aback. I started to question his intentions and the kindness his eyes just showed. My girl instincts screamed at me to say no and I appraised him. He looked decent and the way he asked hinted genuine concern. Perhaps it was the state I was in but I’d already decided. So I gave him a tentative.He smiled and disappeared.
I turned back wondering and tossing a million things in my head, a part of my mind also worried about the way me and my room looked. But before I could grab anything the doorbell rang. I ran to open the door with a strange excitement and he was there the kind smile on his face and a small box in his hand. The girl next door was entering her house too and she turned to look at me. I worried what she would think of this good looking stranger at my door but she didn’t seem to care. How strange.I didn’t say anything but stepped to one side to let himknow he could come in. He took a step and offered me the red box. I took it, and looked at it not sure what to do. “Go on “, he said encouragingly’. So I opened it. It was empty. I looked at him and he took the lid from my left hand slightly making the slightest contact,placed it back on the box said, “It’s your smile,you’ll get It before I leave”.
I felt like smiling already but instead I found tears welling up again. It was all I could to fight them back and he probably saw it too because he raised his hands hesitantly to comfort me. I closed my eyes and I felt the stream trickle down my cheeks. And then I felt warm fingers brushing them away slowly. This should not happen I thought, yet I wanted them to linger. But they disappeared as soon as my eyes opened. He was looking at me and I was comforted at once. “Would you like to have lunch with me?”I asked nervously. “Of course!” he said, “what have you got?” It turned out I didn’t have anything so we ordered a pizza which he seemed to like as much as I did.
We sat on the table and started talking about nothing in particular. But I felt like I was telling him more than I ever told anybody. He looked like he really understood what I had to say. I told him all that I had built up inside that day. He didn’t speak much, but his face encouraged me to let it all out. Once he interrupted me to say, “its ok, I like the way you keep touching your hair”something I thought of as my stupid habit. His expression made me believe he really cared. Or maybe it was my desperation, we’d just met after all.We moved to the couch and I was much better now. I even felt elated. When I was done he just took my hand carefully, in a way that made you want to hold on and said “there is a lot out there, life is awesome! Someone like you will get what you want soon enough”. Those simple words made me very happy or maybe it was just his presence.
He turned on the T.V and put on a car show I happened to like as well. I was having an inner battle of my own and as if he could hear it all, he placed his hand on one side of my head nudging it gently against his shoulder. I leaned eagerly and it felt the safest place on earth. I could see now how my friends forgot everything when they’re with their boyfriends. It was easy to get lost with someone you felt at home. He was funny too. He constantly commented on the show and though I’d already seen it before with my college friends, I felt like a giggly teenage girl.
My mind was telling me this was weird but a larger part of me was determined to believe something else. Sometimes without seeming to think about it, he just stroked my hair slowly. I felt a smile spreading across my lips.He saw it too and took the box out. “Told you didn’t I ?”, he said and I smiled looking up now. I sensed he would be wanting to leave now so I got up and he followed. We went down the stairs and stopped in the lane.
I couldn’t believe what had just happened and product of my lifetime of thinking I thought this was probably it and I was thinking too much on it. I heard the sound of the approaching subway and looked around to see people walking in the narrow lane. It irked me to see that they acknowledged me standing there but not the man I was standing with.
Looking at an old couple walking together I gave up to my heart and wrapped my arms around him. He closed his arms around me too and my heart gave a leap. I didn’t want to let go but I was thinking about the people around. I checked to see if they were looking but they didn’t seem to be annoyed just questioning. I couldn’t delve on that longer than that I was much too happy and warm in his embrace. When I finally let go “see you” , he said and I smiled in a grateful sort of way and watched him cross the lane.
The subway crossed in the same second and I turned back to go back home. An old lady from the opposite building smiled through the pink curtains.